Newman Shrine at Church of Our Savior, NYC

by Fr. George Rutler
Pastor, Church of Our Savior, NYC

One of the big events this year and, indeed, in any year of the modern history of the Church, will be the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, renowned theologian, by Pope Benedict XVI on September 19 in Birmingham, England. The Pope will spend some of his time this summer at Castel Gondolfo preparing talks for that state visit. Since his early student days, the Holy Father was greatly influenced by the teachings of Cardinal Newman. When Pope Leo XIII created Newman a cardinal, he said that his gesture was an indication of the kind of papacy he wanted. Much the same could be said of Pope Benedict and this beatification.

Through the munificence of friends outside our parish in the United States and abroad, we shall have a memorial to Cardinal Newman in our church, and I think it will be the first in our country to be so dedicated. While the full use of votive lights and prayers to a saint must await his canonization, this shrine will be a sign of thanks for all that Cardinal Newman has done for the Catholic Church, by his teaching, his example, and his intercessions. His life (1801 - 1890) spanned an age in which he was considered one of the most eminent of "Eminent Victorians," but his prophetic gifts make him even timelier now, when the Church is being called to a new evangelization and recovery of ancient truths.

Our Cardinal Newman shrine will not take long to install, as it will actually involve the restoration of some of the original woodwork of a confessional near the St. Jude shrine, which was enlarged quite a few years ago and became a storage closet blocking space and altering the symmetry of the original design. It will also be a testament to the talents of some of the young artists and architects in our own parish who are helping with this. The installation should only be a minor inconvenience, as it will be done in phases, and will not interfere with the regular activities in the church. Archbishop Dolan has expressed his interest in this project and has graciously offered to bless this shrine at Solemn Evensong and Benediction on Thursday, September 23, at 6:00 pm. We shall also have the opportunity to sing some of Cardinal Newman's own hymns, most of them familiar, and all of them reminders in an age of aesthetic and doctrinal dereliction, of what sacred hymnody should be.

In place of the Pastor's column, which normally is suspended in the month of August, I will be running excerpts from some of Cardinal Newman's writings, so that more people will have access to this great soul and theological genius. As Cardinal Newman never studied without praying, so should this study of Cardinal Newman be accompanied by prayers for his swift canonization and, as I hope will be the case, his designation as a Doctor of the Church.


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